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Willing to offer F-35 to India if US govt approves

Le Bourget (Paris): After India rejected its F-16 fighter jets, US defence major Lockheed Martin has said it is willing to offer its latest fifth generation multi-role F-35 stealth planes if the US government approves it.

"The decision has to be taken by the (US) government. There has not been any discussion between us and the Indian Government," Lockheed`s Martin Director of Communications of F-35 Michael J Rein told PTI here, saying his firm is willing to rejoin the bid for the USD 11 billion fighter jet deal for procurement of 126 Medium-Multi Role Combat Aircraft.

The Indian Government had rejected Lockheed`s offer of F-16 along with another US firm Boeing?s offer of F/A-18 Super Hornet from the race for procurement of the jets.

Rein said the offer of F-35 stealth fighter to India has been mentioned in a draft Senate Bill and it was up to the US Government to take it forward.

The proposal to allow sale of F-35 stealth fighter has brightened the prospects of Lockheed Martin returning to the race for the deal, a top official of an Aerospace firm attending the Paris Air Show said.

Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin had been aggressively biding for the anticipated USD 11 billion deal.

Rein, who is here to as part of Lockheed Martin?s delegation to Paris Air Show, was replying to a question on reports that the US defence major will offer its F-35 jets to India to rejoin the race for the MMRCA contract, billed as one of the largest in recent times world-wide.

Lockheed Martin had offered the F16IN Super Viper to India which was rejected by the Indian government along with Boeing`s F-18 Super Horne and Russian MiG.

India has shortlisted two European contenders, French Dassault Rafale and European Eurofighter for procuring 126 Medium-Multirole Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) deal for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in April.

However, another executive, not wished to be named, said it would be difficult for Lockheed Martin to rejoin the competition as Indian government has already completed the shortlisting exercise.

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